Annette King confirmed as Labour deputy
By Peter Wilson
Labour leader Andrew Little is keeping Annette King as his deputy through to the next election.
He chose the veteran MP for the position when he became leader nearly a year ago, saying he would decide in 12 months whether to keep her on or make a change.
His announcement today ended speculation that Jacinda Ardern might replace Ms King.
Mr Little says Ms Ardern didn't seek the job, and told him she didn't want it.
He's going to reshuffle his caucus and announce a new line-up at the end of November, after the party's annual conference.
Mr Little says he and Ms King work very closely together.
"It's a team that has worked very well and given confidence to the caucus," he told reporters.
He says he expects there will be changes to his front bench when he reshuffles the caucus, but Grant Robertson will continue in the finance role.
"Final decisions haven't been made, there's still a lot of work to do, and a very strong team is coming together," he said.
"I want to nurture and develop talent... we are seeing some fantastic performances, I want the caucus to be strong and to have strong performers in it."
Ms Ardern can expect promotion when the caucus is reshuffled - Mr Little says the line-up will "reflect her talents".
Mr Little says the fact that Ms King has made it clear she isn't interested in the leadership didn't influence his decision to keep her on.
There's been speculation Ms Ardern could be a threat if she held the deputy leadership.
Mr Little was aware of that.
"I decided to make the announcement because of the rising crescendo of commentary around the deputy leadership," he said.
"I have to say that one of the things I've developed in this role is an absolutely jaundiced view of the underlying `facts' in many commentaries."
Ms King is overseas.
Mr Little says she's "absolutely thrilled" to stay on as deputy.